Fenichel, Marilyn, Schweingruber, Heidi A.. "9 Extending and Connecting Opportunities to Learn Science." Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2010.
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Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments
are learning in class on a daily or weekly basis. This approach avoids some of the conflicts between science in schools and out-of-school programs, while allowing out-of-school programs to support students’ learning in schools. It also has logistical benefits, since it does not require the same level of planning and day-to-day communication between school teachers and out-of-school staff.
Finally, in some programs, out-of-school science is entirely disconnected from school science. Directors, coordinators, and staff of the programs make sure that participants are engaging in high-quality science experiences, but they do not consider it essential for students to connect out-of-school science to school science. In some cases, these programs may go so far as to argue that by keeping the two worlds separate, out-of-school programs can provide students with an alternate entry point into science if they have already been turned off from school science.
The Multicultural Education for Resource Issues Threatening Oceans (MERITO) Program in Monterey, California, illustrates a middle ground, where the out-of-school-time curriculum and activities are coordinated with classroom activities, but not necessarily in lockstep. The MERITO Program is a collaboration among the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS), local school districts, and other local stakeholders. Its purpose is to provide underrepresented students with hands-on field experiences and in-class activities to teach them about nature and to instill in them a desire to protect the habitat. The program has two goals: to reach the community’s growing Latino population and to teach this population about the importance of protecting the area’s pristine shorelines and marine life. It is funded in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s California Bay Watershed Education and Training Program. The next case study provides a look at this program.